How Sharp Do You Keep an Axe?

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So? Do you keep an axe scary sharp like a knife or not, because there's too much force applied to the blade? I'm talking about an axe, not a splitting wedge.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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-MIKE- wrote:

May sound strange, but for optimal performance I think you have to take into consideration how you are going to be using the axe (type of wood, for instance). The angle of the bevel will clearly determine the strength of its cutting edge. I won't offer any numbers as frankly I lack the experience to prescribe them. Sharp axes are known to be safer than dull ones!
Bill
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I don't take the time to Scary(tm) an axe, but I sharpen frequently on a 600grit diamond hone to DamnearScary(tmLJ). I'm taking out an apple tree in the side yard right now and the first couple licks on a 4" diameter root blew me away. It sounded like rifle shots as the axe hit that superhard wood. Amazing.
And after seeing a deep lateral almost the size of my waist, I have decided to dig around it and cut it off beneath the surface with a chainsaw instead of digging the roots out or stump grinding.
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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LJ:
I'll go with DNSS and up that to SS assuming mill wood or that you are talking any wood clear of rocks, nails or other hard, blunting inclusions that, say, a tree may have acquired over its growth. You want the axe to have the maximum penetration your selection of force allows and, lordy, under any circumstances, you don't want the thing to jump, deflect or skip. Blunt axes will do that. Should they then land outside of your target zone--or on parts of the axeman--a guy may have a real reason to hate long division. Sharp axes stick. But I sure wouldn't use them for peeling or without clearing the area an arc would take them to if you heman it through a limb that should have been tougher than that.
If you're felling, the difference between a powerful axe blow and one a tenth as powerful not only wastes time but it practically convinces you that 1x10 doesn't equal 10. With a 10 blow you shatter and crack. So, other things come into play in assessing what works best. Those things are the heaviness of the head and the length of the handle. Force being equal, a weightier head and a long handle rule.
A practical trick that also works well is to wrap a length of inner tube about 4" wide in two layers just below the head on the handle and use automotive band clamps to keep it there. This protects the handle from protuberances and the head from loosening. Wrap it much thicker and you might get that ill bounding we talked about and want to avoid. But, done as indicated and after sentences of practice, the only setback seen with this procedure is that the clamps will break or crack sooner or later in.
Lastly in the area, another jeopardy from extended hours with a heavy axe is "trigger finger". Your handle reverberates and causes a traumatic knot to occur in the finger tendons that cross the palm, especially on the topmost hand. Symptomatic is a finger starting to lock closed, then opening with a pop. Keep on keepin' on when the sign first appears and you win an operation which alleviates the difficulty without remedy of the damage. In other words, go and do something else for a month or so if the omen shows. Another alert from persistent use is "white finger" but I won't get into that here except to say if the digits go numb, quit and get reading.
Prevention for the cited maladies is to wrap a handle tightly in foam pipe insulation along with the wearing of some expensive gloves whose name can be fetched on demand. If the wrapping reduces your handle control, it isn't tight enough or it's too thick. This last paragraph works for sledges too. There's an odd lanyard technique for allowing the release of sledges before the acutal moment of impact but we'll save that one until we meet on the rockpile.
See how a simple question hooks up one thing with another?
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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Scary sharp is not required, but a good sharp ax is. If splitting wood lengthwise, the bevel angle should be relatively high. When cutting cross-grain, the bevel angle should be lower.
Buy an old ax or one with reasonable metal, so that it doesn't dull so easily. The handle should have coarse grain, not close/tight grain, to prevent/reduce vibration or splitting easily.
A sharp ax will leave a clean cut on a hard wood. Problems cutting those apple roots: your ax is either dull or the bevel angle is too high.
Sonny
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On Tue, 12 Apr 2011 23:45:28 -0700, "Edward Hennessey"

Ayup. And I take a wide stance on roots since the trajectory of the axe head is between them if anything does wrong.

I'm about ready to spend some money on a new handle for this $3 garbage sale axe, but it hasn't finished itself off yet. Ditto the $5 gs pick mattock.

I'd never, ever wrap a handle with foam. The rake is the only implement which gets that treatment, and it's not critical to my wellbeing if it slips.
Besides, I only use the axe when there are a few laterals and I can't get the mud out of the way easily. I don't mind getting a few dings on the axe from the dirt. I wouldn't do that with a felling axe I used for real work, but I don't do that, anyway. I give the wood to neighbors willing to take their chainsaws to it and haul it off. ;)

Like me asking (with a giggle) "On what prison farm did you learn these tough life lessons, Ed?"
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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LJ:
A cheapo and available purchase at garage sales, flea markets and the like are catcher's shin guards. They'll go nice with your steel-toed sneakers. The thick plastic ones sure beat unadorned Levi's.

When it's possible, I've had good returns pulling the wedge in the handle eye, backing out the handle, keying surfaces with 50 grit, slathering everything with epoxy and putting the wedge back in , snugging components up so the wood-to-steel interfaces on the head and wedge aren't starved of adhesive. Have some acetone on hand to tidy up because it's a mess.

As a footnote, I know I read some guys get TF trying to take up golf. Golf. Susceptibilities vary widely.

Done right, it won't. I have a roll of some thinner stuff but on sledges especially, there is massive improvement in the vibration dampening and you can compress even the regular product real tight with tape. Add glue. Remember you're holding it too.
A friend thinks similarly but first makes a bunch of very slight conical depressions all over the handle with a countersink, thinking that these make anti-slip keys for the foam when compressed by either the tape or swinging hands. Likely, he's right.
The killer foam for the application was developed for seating in the FB-111. That pads my gloves. When I saw your basic 6'8" demonstrator do a dead knee drop on concrete covered by a 1/4"-3/8" pad of the product, the wallet made like an airborne butterfly giving live birth to dollar bills. One day, the wallet may have further fits and buy a roll of the material.

Larry...Larry...Larry, 7734 inverted, I just can't tell you nothing. If I pull out the alumni directory, you're what, Angola class of '73-4?
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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The special tape used for wrapping up tennis racquet handles is good. Sticks well, has some cushioning but also provides a good grip without requiring too much of a squeeze from the hand. This is a tip I learned from a blacksmith. My favourite hammer is treated this way and it works well.
--
Stuart Winsor

Midland RISC OS show - Sat July 9th 2011
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On Tue, 12 Apr 2011 23:45:28 -0700, "Edward Hennessey"

significantly.
I like the ones with molded rubber grips.
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On Wed, 13 Apr 2011 18:22:59 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I like to do a little bit, but if a lot needs to be done, I hire it out and charge the client accordingly. Or pay the neighbor kid to do the dastardly deed for me.
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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C:
If you have any specific names to mention or any other structural detail or tests that you've come across, it would be great to hear. Comparative data would be a specially good find if that is handy.
I know there are ways to make the handles both strong with better vibration dampening but until that can be accomplished at a cost the market is willing to profitably support....
There's a sledge with the handle attached to the head by a short length of cable. It's obviously a bit floppy; that's immaterial for most breaking What it does for diminishing user wear and tear is amazing. Now if only there was a more durable method of reliably attaching the cable.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
Regards
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wrote:

A sawzall with a long coarse blade is the best way to cut roots... unlike a chainsaw it does not mind the occasional dirt.
Cheers, Shawn
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wrote:

Shawn, you make a bloody good point there. I have some 12" woodworking blades for my recip, too. I'll try that later today, iffen the rain stops long enough. The smaller recip will get into tighter areas, too. I like it!
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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"Larry Jaques" wrote

Had a neighbor who had a bunch of junk to get rid of, but it would not fit into the garbage can. I brought my recip saw over there and cut everything up into small enough chunks to satisfy the garbage man. I have done the same thing myself. Roots, branches, old office chairs, etc. It is versatile. And when it bogs down, just change the blade. I did not have one for along time. But when I got it (on sale) I have been finding uses for it again and again. The only problem is when the stock is not secure. As long as the stock is secure, everything else works just fine.
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On Apr 14, 9:00am, "Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote:

Besides a standard Milwaukee with a tail, I also have an 18 volt Milwaukee Sawsall. Talk about handy.
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On 4/14/2011 9:00 AM, Lee Michaels wrote: The only problem is when the stock

That reminds me of when I tried to cut hardboard with a scroll saw. It didn't work At All. At the time I was in disbelief. The problem was explained to me (in this forum).
Bill
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On Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:00:42 -0400, "Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote:

Ditto here. I have some of he old back porch roof to cut up, where the flashing was glued to the perimeter with hot tar. I'll cut it to length and send it away with the garbage next week.
They're the only thing for demolition...unless you can afford a carbide chain saw chain for $200-400.
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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AAMOF, you can get pruning blades for a Sawsall which work great on roots. BTDT
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On Thu, 14 Apr 2011 06:56:28 -0700 (PDT), Robatoy

fence wire without damaging the blade, and they are aggressive enough to handle wet roots quite quickly.
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On 4/14/11 12:45 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

My backyard has an apple and a pear tree, they both send up weird branches and need to be aggressively pruned every couple of years. The recip is the tool of choice with a demolition blade, did the same with a stump in the backyard when we bough the place, dug around it a bit with a shovel, then slice and dice time. Couldn't find the spot now if I tried.
--
Froz...


The system will be down for 10 days for preventive maintenance.
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